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May 26, 2018


The Exodus Music and Arts Festival was a dream come true for a gospel music lover like myself. Imagine a whole day of incredible music from gospel favorites like Erica Campbell, Tamela Mann, Mavin Sapp, Tye Tribbett and Kirk Franklin. Each person brought the praise and worship and you could feel the Holy Spirit in that place.

"You are part of a dream and a vision that I could not have done without you," states Kirk Franklin as he opened the show. He server as host and emcee for the event. "I don't believe anyone loves gospel music more than I do on this planet! The level of talent, skill set and spirit makes it a genre that others have taken their cues from since a young Mahaila Jackson entered the scene decades ago. But the genre has never owned a spot in the pantheon of music festivals that have global behemoths like Coachella or Essence until now!" This was the first ever festival celebrating the best and the brightest from the community that represents the message of hope and love like none other. "One of the reasons Live Nation Urban exists is to uncover opportunities and build live platforms across areas of urban culture that would otherwise be ignored. Gospel music is a thriving genre of music with super talented artists and musicians, and we are excited to be able to partner with Kirk Franklin and his team to bring the festival to life. Our vision is to build and scale this event, not only across multiple days in Dallas, but also to launch in other markets in the future. The demand for a high quality well produced gospel music festival exists, and Kirk Franklin’s Exodus Music & Arts Festival will fulfill that longstanding demand," says Shawn Gee, President of Live Nation Urban.

The music festival began with the "dopest incredible musicians trio out of Virginia, Resound, and they are ice cream cold" as stated by Kirk Franklin. Resound won an online contest called "Choose me for Exodus," where artists from around the world submitted videos of them singing and Kirk Franklin chose the winner to open the show. 

One unique element about the festival was the inclusion of local artists on Stage B. Jabari Johnson, Gaye Arbuckle, Michael Bethany and Myron Butler. I was most excited to see Koryn Hawthorne who sings my jam "Won't He Do It." Her voice is anointed. 

Erica Campbell stayed on stage and took us back to her Mary Mary days. Tamela Mann sings so effortlessly. She opened by saying if Jesus was standing where I'm standing right now, what kind of praise would you give Him? Marvin Sapp reminded us, He is mine and I am His . Tye Tribbett brought the energy to the praise & worship. He wanted to make sure it was loud and lit! "Work It Out." When it came time for Kirk Franklin to take the stage, it literally felt like a Holy Ghost party. He brought Tamela out for "Now Behold the Lamb" and Tye Tribbett out for "It Could've Been Me." Then everyone came out for the finale to sing "Smile."

A powerful and relevant moment during Kirk's performance of "Give Me" came when he sang the lyrics "Do you know your name? If we humble ourselves, fall on our face, anyone can be changed... even the NRA. After applause from the crowd, he continue, saying, "This is not about the second amendment so you don't have to try to defend it. This is about violence and I'm tired of having another moment of silence. You know, that's when you say the prayer in your head. But faith without works is dead."

I loved the audience participation where Kirk wold play a tune on the piano and the audience would sing-a-long like a mass choir. The beat dropped for Childish Gambino's "This Is America," and in between dance moves, Kirk called out "Do you want a revolution?" It proved the thoughtfulness and talent of Kirk Franklin. To witness a day of performances, collaborations and humor was a privilege and gave a hope that can only be curated at EXODUS. We look forward to the success of the festival in the years to come. 


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